Illustration by Leona Novio

Illustration by Leona Novio

When many people think of Reno, one of the first things that come to mind is the Reno arch.

The arch across Virginia Street is one of the most photographed landmarks in the City of Reno’s history. The city and the monument have become inseparable, but after a comment from Mayor Hillary Schieve last week about considering some changes, a conversation gained steam in the following days about potential changes to the sign. Although Schieve only toyed with the idea of replacing lightbulbs to revamp the arch, the idea has caused many in the community to propose their own recommended changes — and it wouldn’t be the first time the arch has been changed.

Since the modern iteration of the Reno arch was dedicated in 1987, the arch has become one of the most iconic symbols in the history of “The Biggest Little City in the World.” However, there have been a handful of significant changes over time. The first Reno arch was constructed in 1926 featuring torches and later implemented the “Biggest Little City” slogan after a contest in 1929. A third version of the arch still stands today across Center Street and there was another alteration in 1963.

With members of the community becoming more vocal about the possible new direction of the arch, The Nevada Sagebrush editorial staff weighed on the options for revisiting the arch. While some represent the burgeoning change in Reno’s culture, others represent ideas that might exist in a perfect world. Regardless of how outlandish some ideas may seem, they all serve to reimagine the iconic symbol in a city that’s changing every day.


A true throwback, a completely stone arch across Virginia Street would demonstrate the power of the new Reno. With daily gladiatorial combat along the villas, Reno would be able to show that its true power does not only lie in the city’s art scene, but also in its brute strength. The new arch would lay the first brick in the foundation for Reno to become a modern-day Sparta.


As an article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal stated this weekend, the “Biggest Little City is bouncing back” with little reliance on gambling. Perhaps revamping the arch in some new ways might spur that change. However, why not take pride in our $2.99 steak dinners and seedy convenience stores? It’s time to make an arch full of the most garish neon colors one could imagine. Cheap novelty T-shirts will rain daily off the new arch in dozens of fashions from howling wolf chic to the more exotic, “literally a moose standing in a river” couture.


This version of the arch would contain reusable water stations with liquids from Pyramid Lake and hologram projectors of famous Renoites from John Mackay to Chris Ault. Additionally, the new arch would contain an LED screen that showcases all of what Reno has to offer. From stunning views of Lake Tahoe to MidTown’s most delectable — though too expensive for college students — restaurants, this screen would pull no punches in the city’s new era.


On a more practical note, to reflect the city’s continued commitment to the arts, the new arch would be a place for artists around the region to paint their works. Similar to the projects along the walls of Circus Circus Casino, the arch would contain a wide array of works from across the Sierras. However, the biggest downside to this idea is the constant upkeep the arch would require to maintain its pristine look.

As the multitude of ideas start to grow in the minds of the people, ultimately the best strategy would be to carefully plan out the idea of a new arch, if that is even necessary. With a $10 million surplus in the city’s budget, it might be better to save the money and develop the ideas over time. There’s nothing wrong with saving it for a rainy day fund. The city could also look into revitalizing some of the parks and other areas of the city, especially downtown. Reno city officials could also look into paying off some of the deficit. A new arch, if done correctly, would bring new energy and excitement to the region, but if it is hastily put together then the money used would be for naught.

The Nevada Sagebrush editorial staff can be reached at and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.